Here we go round the Mullery bush

Alan Mullery with his wife June and children Samantha (left) and Neal in the garden of their home at Cheam, Surrey,

Alan Mullery with his wife June and children Samantha (left) and Neal in the garden of their home at Cheam, Surrey,

As the 1976/77 season approached, new Brighton boss Alan Mullery spoke to Malcolm Folley of the Daily Express (10th August 1976):

In the three weeks Alan Mullery has been manager of Brighton he has salt with a procession of players wishing to air their grievances.

He could hardly have increased the demand for personal interviews had he promised trading stamps to anyone visiting his office.

Most of the callers wanted to tell their new manager that they felt they warranted first-team football. They were welcomed by Mullery, for he accurately deduced that there is nothing unhealthy about a club with ambitious players.

Yet he discovered one or two players had translated his arrival as a trial of strength to be resolved by unarmed combat.

Such as the player who went to him recently to ask for a rise. Not the most original reason for seeking an audience, granted but rather special in its own way.

There wasn’t a race of a smile on the man’s face as he presented his case. He needed an increase in pay he said, because he and his wife were thinking of increasing their family.

Somehow, Mullery controlled the urge to laugh aloud, “You’re thinking of increasing your family?” he asked in a fashion that did not require an answer.

“I can tell you what, you can come back when you actually have.”

“The lad left my office realising I wasn’t as gullible as he might have thought. He was just trying it on – but what he’d forgotten was that until a few months ago I’d have stood where he had.

“I had 10 players knock on my door last week to tell me they thought they should be in the first team. That was fine by me. I told them to go out and prove themselves.

“I won’t miss playing one bit,” he told me. “As manager, I’m now playing in 11 positions instead of one. I’m sure I shall use more energy watching Brighton than I used when I was out on the park myself.

But that does not mean that Mullery will allow himself to be submerged by demands which over the years have left a trail of broken spirits in the profession he has just joined.

“I’m lucky because when five o’clock comes I can get in my car, drive home, and leave all my worries behind me. The problem will still be there in the morning, so who’s the use in losing any sleep over them?”

Mullery has plenty going for him. He works for a board which cares, really cares, about the welfare and success of Brighton.

Chariman Mike Bamber and three directors travelled with the team to Torquay last weekend to watch a friendly. They are the team’s most loyal supporters.

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